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Special Publication
Clarification of 2005 Family Research Council Media Remarks on HPV Vaccine
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In response to initial media inquiries regarding the HPV vaccine in early 2005, an FRC spokesman raised the question of whether a vaccine for a sexually-transmitted disease like HPV could give its recipients a false sense of security and thus make them less cautious about their sexual behavior. The theory that reducing one of the risks of a behavior might make that behavior more common is hardly illogical. There is even a scientific term for this, which is "sexual disinhibition." In our meetings with Merck regarding the vaccine later that year, they indicated that they were quite aware of the potential for sexual disinhibition, and that they had examined that issue in the course of their clinical trials for the HPV vaccine. They assured us that they had found no evidence for any increase in sexual disinhibition in connection with the vaccine. We had no basis for doubting that claim, but encouraged them to continue to study that issue after approval of the vaccine for general use.

After extensive study of the vaccine and discussion with medical experts, we concluded that the public health benefits of developing and distributing such a vaccine far outweighed any potential, hypothetical concerns about its impact on sexual behavior. Therefore, we announced in October of 2005 that we would enthusiastically support the development of the vaccine and federal approval of its use, including its addition to the list of vaccines recommended to physicians and of those made available to lower-income families through the Vaccines for Children program. Virtually all pro-family public policy organizations have announced similar support for the vaccine itself.

The only public policy measure which we would oppose in promoting the vaccine is an effort to make it mandatory for school attendance. Our reason for that is that it would infringe upon parental rights to decide their own children's medical care, without sufficient public health justification (because HPV is not transmitted through casual contact). To repeat, our opposition to mandatory vaccination is rooted in a concern about parents' rights, not about sexual behavior.

However, we do think that public education campaigns related to this vaccine should include the medically accurate fact that sexual abstinence outside of one life-long, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner (as in marriage) is the most effective means of preventing not only infection with HPV, but the full range of sexually transmitted diseases.

LH07B02
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